Explaining death to young children

Okay. Cards on the table, this is my third attempt at actually posting this thread. I've been put off each time, by the thought of idiots, either calling me a grief whore, or gloating over it, in order to wind me up. But fcuk it. Here goes.
I'm interested in hearing of your experiences of how you have explained to young kids (a six year old), about someone that is close to them, dying.
In this case, I'm talking about; my eldest boy's bestest pal, dying of a sickle cell disease related death. This is a child, that, the missus and I, have seen grow up, as much as any of our own children. An extended part of our family, and our (Wife and I) God Child to boot.
We sat our boy down, and explained to him on friday evening, that Cameron (the boy) had died, and was now with the Angels - like his Guinea Pig was. But our boy, being six, he didn't really get it!
Yet this evening he asked; if Cameron will be staying for our "boys night" on friday.
Now, the missus, being a Teacher, has had to explain to a class of kids before, about a class mate dying, but never about someone so young, or to such a young child.
Anyway, enough of my waffling on. Have any of you got experience of delivering this sort of news, and how did you help the child cope.
 

CQMS

LE
Tell him the truth, death is gone forever and then deal with the aftermath. If you feed it in dribs and drabs it never goes away.
 
Okay. Cards on the table, this is my third attempt at actually posting this thread. I've been put off each time, by the thought of idiots, either calling me a grief whore, or gloating over it, in order to wind me up. But fcuk it. Here goes.
I'm interested in hearing of your experiences of how you have explained to young kids (a six year old), about someone that is close to them, dying.
In this case, I'm talking about; my eldest boy's bestest pal, dying of a sickle cell disease related death. This is a child, that, the missus and I, have seen grow up, as much as any of our own children. An extended part of our family, and our (Wife and I) God Child to boot.
We sat our boy down, and explained to him on friday evening, that Cameron (the boy) had died, and was now with the Angels - like his Guinea Pig was. But our boy, being six, he didn't really get it!
Yet this evening he asked; if Cameron will be staying for our "boys night" on friday.
Now, the missus, being a Teacher, has had to explain to a class of kids before, about a class mate dying, but never about someone so young, or to such a young child.
Anyway, enough of my waffling on. Have any of you got experience of delivering this sort of news, and how did you help the child cope.

Like with a lot of this stuff. There isn't 'an' answer. The trick is to explain as honestly as you can - not bullshitting and not dodging the question - in the terms that you feel the child can comprehend.

Then do an extended Q&A, like you're experiencing now. Just keep answering the questions honestly and simply.
 
This is something I've never had to do with a quite young child. I don't envy your position at all and I hope you find a way to do this that doesn't upset the child any more than can be avoided.

I think you need to be truthful but leave out details that may cause the child anxiety such as what happens to the remains after death. At that age, the child doesn't need to hear about those things.

I'm pretty sure there will be some good advice available in book form that will help you if you look around the internet. I found this by doing a quick google. http://www.nasponline.org/resources/crisis_safety/griefwar.pdf.

There's bound to be other stuff and agencies who can provide good advice.
 

Mr_Fingerz

LE
Book Reviewer

Guns

ADC
Moderator
Book Reviewer
My daughter was sat down and we explained how Granddad Peter had died, he was no longer with us. We answered her questions and made sure we were up front and honest.

She worried that Grandma would be next and sometimes she worries that we will die but on the whole she has accepted it, not fully understood it yet but is in a much better place than a friend who can't understand why her Nana has left her.

MOD Hat on. This is a serious thread. ANY pissing around and ROPs will be given.
 
This is something I've never had to do with a quite young child. I don't envy your position at all and I hope you find a way to do this that doesn't upset the child any more than can be avoided.

I think you need to be truthful but leave out details that may cause the child anxiety such as what happens to the remains after death. At that age, the child doesn't need to hear about those things.

I'm pretty sure there will be some good advice available in book form that will help you if you look around the internet. I found this by doing a quick google. http://www.nasponline.org/resources/crisis_safety/griefwar.pdf.

There's bound to be other stuff and agencies who can provide good advice.
Like I've already said; the missus has experience of explaining death to kids, but not to young kids. This ain't like writing a death letter. This is explaining a death of someone, who regularly stays at our house. And who (our boy) is now struggling to understand, why, his buddy won't be staying on "boys night".
 

jarrod248

LE
Gallery Guru
Like I've already said; the missus has experience of explaining death to kids, but not to young kids. This ain't like writing a death letter. This is explaining a death of someone, who regularly stays at our house. And who (our boy) is now struggling to understand, why, his buddy won't be staying on "boys night".
It's worth sharing how you feel and explain its hard for you as parents too. I'm not a parent but have had patients who suffered because parents weren't honest about death.
 

Mr_Fingerz

LE
Book Reviewer
I think that it is important that you also explain what grief is, Your lad may well need to grieve for his mate once he has come to terms with the fact that his friend is no longer around.

The ability to grieve is important, the fact that I didn't grieve for the deaths of my parents was one of the factors in the failure of my marriage, your son will feel the loss of his mate quite badly. Contact Cruse they will be able to help you here.
 
Christ RGJ, that's a difficult one.
My next door neighbours wife died earlier this year, and it had to be explained to the 2 grandkids aged 8 & 5.
It got explained that when your time on earth is up, God calls you back to heaven, and although it is sad, that is what happens, and that one day everyone gets called back, so you will be able to see them again.

Good luck, I hope that you can get the message across to the little 'un without too many tears.
 
"jarrod248, post: 6091058, member: 22849"]It's worth sharing how you feel and explain its hard for you as parents too. I'm not a parent but have had patients who suffered because parents weren't honest about death.
Thats it mate. Loosing mates, or seeing kids hurt on tour, you can sort of put to the back of your mind, but kids dying who you know, is weird sh1t to me.
 
Christ RGJ, that's a difficult one.
My next door neighbours wife died earlier this year, and it had to be explained to the 2 grandkids aged 8 & 5.
It got explained that when your time on earth is up, God calls you back to heaven, and although it is sad, that is what happens, and that one day everyone gets called back, so you will be able to see them again.

Good luck, I hope that you can get the message across to the little 'un without too many tears.

It's not me, it's the OP Ho2331 who has this dilemma. I'm sure he's read your advice in your post.
 

jarrod248

LE
Gallery Guru
Thats it mate. Loosing mates, or seeing kids hurt on tour, you can sort of put to the back of your mind, but kids dying who you know, is weird sh1t to me.
I'm not sure that adults dying is easier but explaining to kids needs to be modified so they understand. I can't remember now what one of my cousins was told about her fathers death but it was that he'd gone somewhere. To this day she's disturbed and I think it's due to that.
Share how you feel, make no mistake on the fact that its final. If you're religious then tart it up with a bit of God stuff. Kids and old folk tend to be treated as being stupid or unable to understand, don't make that mistake.
 
I agree with Jarrod, I was never told properly about my grandads death, not even allowed to go to the funeral, and to this day it still pisses me off, and has affected me my whole life.
 

jarrod248

LE
Gallery Guru
I recall when my Grandad was really old my mother talking to me about how ill he was and she was matter of fact about it. I had a brother die in a motorbike accident and an Uncle die not long after. It's hard to know how to behave under such circumstances as a child. I think I just wondered who would die next and it's made me the cheerful soul I am today.
 

jarrod248

LE
Gallery Guru
I agree with Jarrod, I was never told properly about my grandads death, not even allowed to go to the funeral, and to this day it still pisses me off, and has affected me my whole life.
We are all a bit different and I've always tried to avoid family funerals. I don't like seeing my parents upset. I guess a child needs exposing to such stuff but at least I had an option and decided I'd rather go to school.
 
I sympathise with your problem, it's not that easy to explain to a child that old people die, because they've "run out of life."

Or that people can die at anytime due to accident/trauma, but children aren't expected/supposed to die from medical reasons.

I had good friend who was killed in a RTA when we were 8 or 9 and I could deal with that (just) as I understood that accidents happen, he always was a mad bugger on his bike.

I just hope you find a way of letting him down gently. I don't envy you.
 

vale

Old-Salt
One thing that was offered to me for my eldest when my mum died in '07 was something local called the Laura Centre (set up by COPE) and it might be worth exploring if there is something similar close to you if you still have concerns. It was something that had been set up primarily for parents who have lost a child but they work with bereaved kids too. I'd always believed that kids asking questions meant that they're old enough to know so had always been honest with the kids about my mum's illness. I was quite flummoxed then when it became apparent that my daughter was struggling with her nana's death so much - although with hindsight, being bereaved myself, I was perhaps not the best person to be dealing with it at the time.

It turned out that what was really bothering H so much was that she'd asked her dad if she could go and see her nana in the hospice before she died but he'd refused. I remember discussing with the nursing staff at the hospice the wisdom of her being allowed to visit and they'd advised that she should be but as I was so tied up with my mum, the kids were staying with their dad at this point and it was pretty much out of my hands. Her last memory of their nana is being bundled into an ambulance to be carted off to the hospice, quite poorly and in a lot of pain and she felt she hadn't said goodbye properly nor had she got a clue about the place she was being carted off to. Of course she hadn't said goodbye in whatever way she would have wanted to, not really. She was one very angry and resentful 10 year old who didn't want to get angry and resentful at me because she knew I'd been knocked sideways at losing my mum and didn't feel she could tell her dad what she thought of his decision either. She was very close to my mum and is still angry about it all these years later, even after talking about it. I do feel guilty I'd not put my foot down very hard at the time and insisted she be allowed to go.
 

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